Today’s news: Trending business stories for November 24, 2023

The latest business news as it happens

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4:37 p.m.

Market close: TSX ends slightly down as U.S. markets mixed

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Canada’s main stock index closed down slightly Friday while U.S. markets were mixed on a low-volume day following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 13.55 points at 20,103.11.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 117.12 points at 35,390.15. The S&P 500 index was up 2.72 points at 4,559.34, while the Nasdaq composite was down 15 points at 14,250.85.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.41 cents U.S. compared with 73 cents U.S. on Thursday.

The January crude oil contract was down US$1.56 from Wednesday’s close at US$75.54 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down three cents at US$3 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$10.20 at US$2,003 an ounce and the December copper contract was up three cents at US$3.79 a pound.

The Canadian Press


4:14 p.m.

Oil and gas well drilling expected to pick up in 2024

Pumpjacks draw out oil and gas from wells near Calgary.
Pumpjacks draw out oil and gas from wells near Calgary. Photo by Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press files

Canada’s oil and gas well drilling sector says it expects modest growth in 2024.

The Canadian Association of Energy Contractors (CAOEC) says it expects 6,229 wells to be drilled in Western Canada next year.

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That’s an 8.3 per cent increase from the 5,748 wells drilled in 2023.

The industry group says most of this growth is expected to happen in the second half of 2024 as the market rebounds from what was a softer third quarter in 2023.

CAOEC says the drilling sector will need more than 39,000 workers this year.

It says finding experienced workers has been challenging and the industry is marketing itself to prospective workers across the country, including in Central and Eastern Canada.

The Canadian Press


1:12 p.m.

Rogers Sugar asks for mediation to help end Vancouver refinery strike

Rogers Sugar Inc. is on strike and the impact is higher prices.
Rogers Sugar Inc. is on strike and the impact is higher prices. Photo by Arlen Redekop/Postmedia

Rogers Sugar Inc. says it has asked for mediation to help bring an end to an eight-week long strike at its Vancouver refinery.

The company says it has applied to the British Columbia Labour Relations Board for mediation to help it reach a new collective agreement with the 138 workers who have been off the job since Sept. 28.

The company says the union, the Public and Private Workers of Canada Local 8, has accepted mediation.

The Rogers Sugar refinery in Vancouver is one of only three large sugar refineries in the country that processes imported cane sugar.

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The strike at the Vancouver facility has led to supply disruptions on grocery store shelves across Western Canada and caused difficulties for bakers and other small businesses that rely on sugar.

Rogers Sugar has apologized for the supply shortages and says it is using other facilities to help supply its Western Canadian customers.

The Canadian Press


12:17 p.m.

Midday markets: TSX up slightly; U.S. markets mixed

stock chart

Gains in the financial and energy sectors helped lift Canada’s main stock index in late-morning trading, while U.S. stock markets were mixed after they had yesterday off for the thanksgiving holiday.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up slightly by 9.52 points at 20,126.18.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 109.72 points at 35,382.75. The S&P 500 index was up 0.68 points at 4,557.30, while the Nasdaq composite was down 26.45 points at 14,239.41.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.49 cents U.S. compared with 73 cents U.S. on Thursday.

The January crude oil contract was down 34 cents from Wednesday’s close at US$76.76 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down seven cents at US$2.97 per mmBTU.

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The December gold contract was up US$6.30 at US$1,99.10 an ounce and the December copper contract was up a penny at US$3.78 a pound.

The Canadian Press


11:55 a.m.

Iconic Toronto toy store Mastermind files for creditor protection

Mastermind Toys has filed for creditor protection.
Mastermind Toys has filed for creditor protection. Photo by Peter J. Thompson/Financial Post

Specialty Canadian independent retailer Mastermind Toys has filed for creditor protection, citing tough competition, a difficult economic climate and lingering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The difficult but necessary decision to seek creditor protection under the CCAA (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act) was made following careful evaluation of available alternatives and in consultation with legal and financial advisors,” the company said in a statement Friday.

Mastermind was started in 1984 by two brothers, Andy and Jon Levy, originally selling educational software for a hot new market in family home computers. It switched to toys in the 1990s, establishing locations in well-heeled neighbourhoods across the city, where young professionals could find unique toys, order loot bags for birthday parties and enjoy free gift wrapping with the store’s signature paper. By 2005, it had 11 stores in Greater Toronto.

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Mastermind expanded rapidly after 2010, opening another 57 stores across Canada with Birch Hill Private Equity Partners.

“Despite implementing a series of operational improvements and cost reductions, and undertaking an extensive strategic review and conducting a robust sale process, the challenges facing the company’s business have become too significant to overcome,” the company said.

Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc. was appointed as the CCAA Monitor.

Mastermind said all 66 stores across Canada will remain open and holiday promotions will continue online and in store.

Bloomberg


10:30 a.m.

Canada dairy quotas don’t unfairly limit U.S. access, trade panel rules

Cows on a dairy farm in Quebec.
Cows on a dairy farm in Quebec. Photo by Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Canada’s dairy import quotas don’t unfairly limit access for United States producers, according to a panel ruling under North America’s trade pact, marking a major victory for a Canadian sector long accused of protectionism.

A majority of the dispute-settlement panel members found that the quotas aren’t inconsistent with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, ruling against all of the American arguments against Canada’s restrictive system.

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“Canada is very pleased with the dispute-settlement panel’s findings, with all outcomes clearly in favour of Canada,” Trade Minister Mary Ng said Nov. 24 in a statement. “This is good news for Canada’s dairy industry and our system of supply management.”

The decision, which cannot be appealed, means Canada won’t have to make any further changes to the system that has been a long-standing trade irritant between the countries. Canada has firmly controlled dairy supplies for decades, limiting domestic production and applying heavy tariffs to restrict imports, in an effort to stabilize incomes for local farmers.

United States trade representative Katherine Tai said she was “very disappointed” by the panel’s findings.

Bloomberg

More: Canada wins major victory as trade panel says dairy quotas don’t limit U.S. access


10:15 a.m.

Stock markets are open: Little change as U.S. markets set to close at 1 p.m.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Seth Wenig/AP Photo files

Stocks are little changed on Wall Street at the open as trading resumes in the United States after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 per cent Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 50 points and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.2 per cent. Markets will close early at 1 p.m. Eastern today.

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In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up around 0.1 per cent.

Shares were mixed in Europe and Asia. Oil prices fell. Investors will be watching to see how U.S. retailers fare with the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season with Black Friday, given growing concerns that spending may slow under pressure from dwindling savings, rising credit card debt and inflation.

The Associated Press


8:30 a.m.

Retail sales jump 0.8% in sharp spending rebound

Canadian consumers splurged in September and October, a surprise resurgence in spending even as high interest rates restrict household budgets.

Receipts for retailers rose 0.8 per cent last month, according to an advance estimate from Statistics Canada released Nov. 24. That’s the biggest jump since April, and followed an unexpected 0.6 per cent increase a month earlier, which far exceeded the median estimate of a flat reading in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Sales were up in four of nine subsectors, led by gains at car and parts dealers, which were up 1.5 per cent in September. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.2 per cent, versus expectations for a decrease of 0.1 per cent. In volume terms, retail sales grew 0.3 per cent.

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Despite a sharp rebound in headline numbers, details in the report point to consumer weakness. Core retail sales, which exclude gas stations and car dealers, were down 0.3 per cent in September. The decline was led by lower sales at sporting goods, hobby and musical instrument retailers as well as beer, wine and liquor stores, suggesting consumers cut back on some discretionary purchases.

With the economy already showing signs of stagnation, the Bank of Canada will probably look past what’s likely to be a temporary pick-up in demand, and hold borrowing costs at five per cent while waiting for the softening economy to weigh heavier on spending. Accounting for record population growth, core retail sales are declining.

Bloomberg

More: Canadian consumers splurge in September and October, lifting retail sales


7:30 a.m.

EY seeks adviser to help liquidate failed hedge fund Traynor Ridge

National Bank is among trading firms left with
National Bank is among trading firms left with failed trades after the failure of Traynor Ridge Capital. Photo by Della Rollins/Bloomberg

The receiver in charge of failed Canadian hedge fund Traynor Ridge Capital Inc. is looking to hire an investment adviser to help sell its assets.

Ernst & Young Inc. posted a notice Nov. 23 calling for investment firms to apply for the job by Nov. 30 with “a high-level strategy and work plan for the disposition” of Traynor’s portfolios.

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Toronto-based Traynor, which had about $95 million in assets under management at the end of September, was shut down by regulators in the province of Ontario last month after the sudden death of its founder, Chris Callahan.

The hedge fund manager left a number of trading firms stuck with “failed trades” — brokers had executed trades on behalf of the firm but couldn’t collect payment. The situation has ensnared companies including Virtu Financial Inc.’s Canadian unit, Echelon Wealth Partners Inc., National Bank of Canada and JonesTrading Canada Inc., according to documents in the case.

Last month, as it froze Traynor from making further trades, the Ontario Securities Commission said that three firms it didn’t name were on the hook for $85 million to $95 million due to trades made on behalf of the firm.

Bloomberg


Before the opening bell

stock chart November 24, 2023

European shares edged toward a weekly gain after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said policymakers are in a position to pause after a tightening cycle that risks plunging the euro area into a recession.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index was about 0.2 per cent higher, on track for its best month since January.

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United States futures were little changed as stock markets reopen today after the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed up 2.70 points at 20,116.66 on Thursday.

Bloomberg


What to watch today

Statistics Canada will release retail sales for October this morning.

The Canadian Association of Energy Contractors hosts a State of the Industry event in Calgary. The event includes the release and discussion of the 2023/24 drilling and service rig forecast. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith delivers the keynote address.

Related Stories

Need a refresher on yesterday’s top headlines? Get caught up here.

Additional reporting by The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Bloomberg


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